Dorsey attorneys G. Michael Bellinger and Joshua Colangelo-Bryan consider in the New York Law Journal the expanding use of national security letters (NSL) by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). An NSL is an investigative tool that the FBI is authorized to serve upon a wide range of businesses - telephone carriers, Internet service providers, financial institutions and consumer credit agencies, for example - demanding various types of customer information. The government's use of NSLs has skyrocketed since the passage of the U.S. Patriot Act in 2001, with more than 140,000 NSLs issued between 2003 and 2005, compared with 8,500 NSLs in 2000.

Bellinger and Colangelo-Bryan provide a checklist for counsel to consider in the event a client is confronted with an NSL. First they present an analysis of whether the NSL is facially valid, and whether it was served upon an appropriate entity. They then conclude with appropriate considerations in formulating a response to a valid NSL, and recommend the establishment of internal protocols for businesses with a national presence that frequently receive NSLs and informal requests for information. 

Download the complete NYLJ article (PDF)

"When the FBI Makes Demands" was published by the New York Law Journal, January 17, 2008. Republished with permission.